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A Nugget of Opportunity
by Nathan Orme norme@dailysparkstribune.com
May 01, 2012 | 2583 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
Left to right: Michael Lee from Reed High School, John Ascuaga’s Nugget CEO Michonne Ascuaga, Jose Rodarte from Sparks High School, Nugget Chief Operating Officer Stephen Ascuaga, Shane Lawson from Spanish Springs High School and Nicolas Aparicio (kneeling) from Reed were at the luncheon Tuesday for the 2012 John Ascuaga’s Nugget scholarship. Twenty-five scholarships of $1,000 were given out this year to seniors from around northern Nevada.
Tribune/John Byrne Left to right: Michael Lee from Reed High School, John Ascuaga’s Nugget CEO Michonne Ascuaga, Jose Rodarte from Sparks High School, Nugget Chief Operating Officer Stephen Ascuaga, Shane Lawson from Spanish Springs High School and Nicolas Aparicio (kneeling) from Reed were at the luncheon Tuesday for the 2012 John Ascuaga’s Nugget scholarship. Twenty-five scholarships of $1,000 were given out this year to seniors from around northern Nevada.
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SPARKS — It is about 2,300 miles from La Guamuchilera II in Mexico to a seat at Sparks High School. It’s about the same distance from Sparks to a seat at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

For many students, such a journey would seem impossible, but it is a reality to one young Railroader thanks to hard work and a few bucks from his hometown casino.

Jose Rodarte of Sparks was one of 25 high school seniors from around the region to receive the 2012 John Ascuaga’s Nugget scholarship. The program, which has handed out 672 scholarships totaling more than $625,000 over the last 25 years, gave $1,000 each to the hard-working seniors to use toward their college educations.

While that amount might be a drop in the bucket for Rodarte, whose costs to attend Dartmouth will be around $60,000 a year, he appreciates the contribution toward his goal of becoming a doctor. As a child on a tiny ranch in the tiny town of La Guamuchilera II, Rodarte was sick a lot after being born prematurely. His mother used to take him on the bus every week to receive treatment for ear and lung problems. The doctor who treated Rodarte left a lasting impression on him that he hopes to carry on one day as an international humanitarian doctor.

“My doctor was amazing,” Rodarte said. “The hospital was like a second home. I want to help people like she helped me out.”

Another Nugget scholarship recipient also has aspirations of helping people when they are sick. Michael Lee, a 17-year-old senior at Reed High School, will be attending the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall to study chemistry, biology and math. His goal is to be a pharmaceutical researcher who develops medicines. While the career ambition is a bit of a compromise with his mother, who wanted him to be a doctor, Lee’s reason also is personal.

“Last year when a friend died of leukemia I decided I really should do that,” Lee said.

Shane Lawson, from Spanish Springs High School, plans to use his Nugget scholarship to pursue an engineering degree at UNR. A lifelong tinkerer, Lawson is known for taking things apart just to see how they work.

“Our dishwasher broke once,” he said. “It was irreparable but I still took it apart to figure out how the pumps worked. I put it back together, but it still didn’t work.”

Nicolas Aparicio, a 17-year-old senior at Reed, also will attend UNR and will use his Nugget scholarship to study business to become an accountant. He said he has found his motivation from within.

“I want to have a good future for me. That’s my life goal,” he said. “I want to show my kids they can do it, too, when I have kids.”

The 2012 recipients of the Nugget Scholarship are:


McKenzie Comba, Carson High School; LaurelAnne Ward, Churchill Co. High School;  Nicholas Pavone, Damonte High School; Veronica Scott, Dayton High School; Sedona Schat, Douglas High School; William Marshall, Eureka Co. High School; Rose Alauria, Fernley High School; Sean McGinley, Galena High School; Diana Tabares-Avila, Hug High School; Brandon Eastman, Lowry High School; Terisay Abdouljalil, McQueen High School; Tasha Vazques, McQueen High School; Maddison Jaureguito, Manogue High School; Kianna Thomas, North Valleys High School; Claudia Dennler, Pershing Co. High School; Michael Lee, Reed High School; Nicholas Aparcio, Reed High School;  Juan Ponce de Leon, Reno High School ; Sage Pommerening, Smith Valley High School; Shane Lawson, Spanish Springs High School; Jose Rodarte, Sparks High School; Kurt Lynch, Virginia City High School; Lucia Sanchez, Wooster High School; Tyler Peeples, Yerington High School  and Rosa Martinez, TMCC High School.
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A Nugget of Opportunity by Nathan Orme norme@dailysparkstribune.com


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